Some of my readers will know that Life Improvement Media Group isn’t my first professional rodeo. A lot of you may know that I was in telecommunications, sales and business ownership prior to LIMG. Needless to say, I’ve been around in business and experienced quite a lot. I’ve met a lot of people, seen a lot of businesses and networked for a solid 17 years. What has been on my mind lately as I grow my company and its sister brands is networking—specifically, what I call the “delusion illusion of networking.”
The term networking, straight off Wikipedia, is as follows: “an activity by which businesspeople and entrepreneurs meet to form business relationships and to recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures.” I chose Wikipedia because it’s a resourceful common ground. Now, let’s back track.
The words that stuck out to me in that definition were “form relationships” (plural), “act upon opportunities” (plural) and “seek potential partners” (plural). Relationships, opportunities and partners are all plural words. Sadly, the majority of networking I’ve witnessed was not plural. There were so many one-way streets, I got lost easily and often. Just like with the marketing failures I saw that led to me creating my own marketing agency, I want to showcase what true networking should be. First, let’s discuss the two main faults my team and I see time and time again.
Fault #1: The World Revolves Around You
The world revolves around everyone, rather than just you. No one wants to do business with someone selfish. If you start shaking hands and handing out business cards thinking, “what can you do for me?” you’ve already lost. On a related note, if you walk into a function and start placing your business cards in front of people, you’ve really lost. Don’t allow yourself fall into the illusion that a business card in someone’s hand means you have established a connection. To be frank, that type of thinking falls on the delusional and is counter-productive.
Solution #1: Care More And Care First
When you network, bring the mindset that people across the table are just as important as you, if not more. In the world of networking, you’ll reap more rewards if you form relationships (plural), chase opportunities (plural), and seek partners (plural). Try winning in networking and asking, “what can I do for you?” or “who do you need to meet to achieve your next goal in business?” When you care about them, they will care about you. Make it a 2-way street from the start and traffic will flow much more smoothly.
Fault #2: Changeability Yields Unpredictability
A lot of networkers jump ship too easily. My team and I brainstormed why this happens. Certainly, there are circumstances that arise and force people to change jobs quickly. Let’s remove that variable altogether for this example. We came up with a slew of potential reasons of why people change too soon.
The networker may move onto the next networking meeting or the next group due to saturation (i.e. there’s 4 other real estate agents in the same weekly meeting). He or she could become impatient with the lack of results from networking. This gives way to changeability and downgrades those many first impressions. (It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon and success won’t happen overnight).
In the worst cases, some networkers abandon their current position and pick up another one too quickly. One week, John Doe is working for the local bank branch. By the next week, he’s selling overpriced energy supplements from his garage. Now, John is unpredictable. At this point, the question must be asked: is John Doe the trusted mortgage broker or is he the new GNC spokesperson?
The problem that arises is reputation or lack thereof. Be weary of someone who gives you their 30-second financial planning elevator pitch on Monday and on Friday morning, they’re involved in some niche of internet marketing. From personal experience, I know John Doe is about to vanish.
Solution #2: Play Poker And Go ALL IN
Years of experience have given me a ton of valuable knowledge. I’ve passed this same knowledge onto the clients I enjoy working with. I’ve also spoken up to my staff on how to better handle themselves and business people in general.
If your name is John Doe, please listen up. First: be patient, be caring and be kind. People will remember how you stood out with your kind actions and caring words. Second: focus on your strengths rather than improving your weaknesses. I assure you you will go much farther when you double down on your talents. Give thought before you work to balance out your qualities and blend back in.
I’m confident that this blog will help readers. Even if you’re on board already with everything I discussed, it can still help someone who you know (sharing is caring, my friends!) A lot about networking has to deal with who you know. Who in your circle can benefit from the new product or service you heard about? Can the new roofer you met help out your college friend’s brick and mortar store?
It’s not always about connecting people together. If and when you do things correctly, other people will connect you to people they know. Get out of your own way and care about people. That’s how you will win in business, in your relationships with people and with life in general.
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